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The Manual Oracle
On from 27 May 2014 till 14 Jun 2014
The Yard
by Phoebe von Held
Genre(s): Drama, New Writing

Tickets: £5.00 - £12.00 - For groups of ten or more, the organiser goes free. Email for group bookings.

About: The Manual Oracle

This new play is inspired by Gracián’s ‘Oráculo manual’, a seventeenth-century ‘self-help-book’ that advised ambitious courtiers in self-promotion, social skill and psychological cunning. Yet behind Gracián’s worldly wisdom there lay a paranoid message: other people are only waiting to harm you.

Unpicking the multiple layers of the original text, ‘The Manual Oracle’ investigates the ambiguities between self-consciousness, strategic thinking and paranoia, by following a cast of four actors through a kaleidoscope of contemporary scenarios inhabited by border-guards and bond-traders, spin-doctors and schizophrenics.

Shifting between the deeply disconcerting and the absurdly funny, this new play will take you on a journey through a society obsessed with surveillance, self-representation and manipulation, a world in which you should always act as if you are being watched.

Phoebe von Held’s previous work as director, adaptor, translator and designer includes: ‘Rameau’s Nephew’ [1998] and ‘The Nun’ [2003] both at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow; and animation works: ‘D’Alembert’s Dialogues’[2005] and ‘Chrysalis’ [2008] shown at ‘Crossing-Over: Encounters between Art & Biotechnology’, Royal Institution, London.

‘The Manual Oracle’ is programmed as part of Anxiety 2014; a new London-wide arts festival, curated by the Mental Health Foundation and taking place in June 2014. It explores anxiety through the arts, looking at its causes, how it affects all our lives, and how it can act as an exciting, motivating force.

Suggested for audiences 14+


“I can’t remember ever seeing a gender-bending performance that transcended the issue of gender so completely; if only by reaching a level of humanity that runs deeper even than sex.” The Scotsman on ‘Rameau’s Nephew’

“Tremendously acted, intelligently designed, another maverick Citizens’ triumph.” The Guardian on ‘The Nun’

“One of the sharpest, funniest shows I’ve seen about the dilemmas of enlightenment politics.” The Scotsman on ‘The Nun‘

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